Like many Hip Hop Heads, I continue celebrating its 50th birthday. For this week's Second Listen Sunday, I decided to give some flowers to iconic MC Queen Latifah and her fifth release, The Dana Owens Album. On this project, Latifah showcases her singing talents, a departure from her previous hip-hop endeavors.
Fans of Hip Hop who paid close attention to Latifah's early releases already knew she had a talent for singing, as evidenced by her impressive hooks. In 1998, Latifah played a co-starring role as a jazz singer in the film "Living Out Loud," which introduced her singing abilities to a broader audience. Following this success, she received an Oscar Nomination for her portrayal of Mama Morton in the movie adaptation of the musical Chicago in 2002. It was only a matter of time before she released a full album showcasing her singing abilities.
The Dana Owens Album hit stores on September 28, 2004. The album featured jazz, soul, and R&B covers of songs by renowned artists like Al Green, Bill Withers, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Latifah was supported by a superstar team of producers, including Mervyn Warren, Herbie Hancock, Vinnie Colaiuta, Jeff Porcaro, and John Patitucci.
Starting with the first song, "Baby Get Lost," originally sung by Dinah Washington, and ending with the final track, "Lush Life," originally performed by Billy Strayhorn and Kay Davis, Latifah flawlessly conveys the feelings and subtleties of every piece. The elaborate arrangements that seamlessly blend classic elegance with modern flair enhance her voice's smooth and luxurious quality.
The Dana Owens Album has an impeccable selection of songs. Latifah showcases her talent by covering various genres and eras, including timeless classics like "Hello Stranger," "Close Your Eyes," and "Moody's Mood for Love." Her unique style and personality bring a fresh perspective to these songs while also paying tribute to the original versions. Each track is carefully curated, highlighting Latifah's exceptional taste and ability to revitalize well-known songs.
One of the album's highlights is the collaboration with a legendary singer. Al Green drops by to add some grit to his timeless classic "Simply Beautiful." Latifah and Green's voices blend harmoniously, creating a beautiful and soulful duet that explores the song's original message of who wants to give love to someone and expect love in return .
The Dana Owens Album is a testament to Queen Latifah's immense talent and versatility as an artist. She effortlessly transitions from one genre to another, showcasing her ability to adapt and excel in various musical styles. Latifah's authenticity and passion shine through whether she's crooning a jazz ballad or delivering a soulful R&B performance.
Final Grade: B+
The Dana Owens Album by Queen Latifah is available on all streaming platforms.